November 16, 2013

Sparking Student Motivation: Review/Practice Games and a FREEBIE

It's Saturday and I've been watching this linky for a long time. I decided this was going to be THE WEEK! So I'm linking up with Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for the first time to share something that I did during the week that motivated my students.

More than twenty years ago I took a summer professional development course at Youngstown State University. Called "Using Learning Centers and Games with Middle School Students", this class was probably THE BEST one I have ever taken, including undergraduate, graduate, and beyond level classes. For three weeks, three days a week, eight hours a day we did nothing but MAKE learning centers and games based on what we taught in our curriculum. We were even given the supplies: coloring utensils, scissors, glue, paper of every variety, envelopes, canisters, etc. to make our "stuff". I was in heaven! 

It was during this class that I learned about a game called Kaboom! I wasn't crazy about the graphics or name (a bomb, explosion) so I changed it to ZAP! and used a lightning bolt. This game was nothing more than some cards in a decorated Pringles can. I think the first one that I made might have been about complete sentences and sentence fragments. My fifth and sixth graders LOVED it and begged to play it ALL the time. I made several other ZAP! games for various skill practice and we used them frequently.

To Play Zap!...

1. Divide your class into several teams depending on the number of students.
2. Determine how long you will play or how many rounds you will complete. 
3. Have a student draw a strip from the container without looking inside. I hold the container above the player’s head.
4. The team should read the words on the strip, then confer to determine the answer.
5. If the team answers correctly, it keeps the strip. If it answers incorrectly the strip is returned to the container.
6. Teams take turns drawing/collecting the strips. However, there is a twist. If a team draws a ZAP! card, it must return ALL of its strips to the container.

About ten years ago I moved buildings and in the process purged a LARGE amount of stuff I had in my classroom. I just did NOT want to move it. Among those things purged were my ZAP! games. That first year in the new building was so hectic as I also assumed the position of music director at my church. ZAP! was forgotten in the hustle and bustle.

For whatever reason, this year I remembered ZAP! and whipped up a Fall version to help my fifth and sixth graders practice identifying independent and dependent clauses. It was a hit! 

And now I'm trying to keep up with new versions, introducing new skills each week while helping my students maintain old skills. I've quite the collection already in my TpT Store and have MANY more planned. This past week we played Thanksgiving ZAP! Verb Tenses.

This coming week we will play Turkey ZAP! to help us practice identifying nouns, verbs, and adjectives in context.

If you've never played ZAP! with your class, you might like to give it a try. Here's a FREEBIE version that you can download and use with your upper elementary students. Designed to give them practice with main idea and vocabulary development, What's Wrong ZAP! is sure to spark motivation for learning with your kiddos. Click HERE  or on the graphics below to download your copy.

I'd love to hear how your students react to this fun and engaging motivator. If you ZAP! your class, please return and leave a comment!

And before you leave, you're invited to participate in a great giveaway for the BEST pencil sharpener in the world that I am hosting now through Nov. 27, 2013. Just hop on over to this blog post to enter.

Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6

Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


  1. Thanks for the freebie. This looks like a fun game for my kiddos to play. Thanks so much!

    1. You're VERY welcome! I hope that you and you students do enjoy it, Bethany! Mine are wild for it! It is really good practice for them also, and that's the best part.

  2. I love Kaboom, but I like your Zap name better! And, you're right, students love this game! I'm so glad you posted the directions-I've been playing a little differently because I heard the directions from a friend of a friend. Can't wait to grab your freebie! Thanks so much for sharing and linking up! Hope to see you again next week!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

    1. Thanks, Joanne! I'm glad I could share a little via your linky! I've been following it and you for quite some time. I LOVE all the terrific ideas I always find there. I finally had something to contribute! I'm thinking ahead to what I might share for next week.

  3. Thanks so much for your freebie! Printed it out yesterday and then played with my Learning Strategies class - they loved it!! I'll definitely be looking through your Zap catalog! :)

  4. You're VERY welcome! I'm so glad that your students enjoyed the activity! I used this with my eighth graders today. They had such fun, and I LOVED the thinking that was going on! ZAP! is such a flexible, useful game!

    Have a great week and thanks for stopping by!


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